High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) Cable Connection This digital audio and video interface does it all. HDMI delivers uncompressed high-definition video (up to 1080p with 12-bit color), eight channels of digital audio for 7.1 surround sound and an integrated control channel - all in one relatively compact cable and connection.
Component Video: The Three Way Video Cable Connection Component connections are available most high definition televisions, DVD players, and modern satellite systems. Component video splits video information into three separate signals, two for color, and one for luminance or brightness. This further improves picture clarity, color, and sharpness above S-Video.
DVI Cable Connection Available on many earlier HDTVs and computer LCD screens, DVI (Digital Visual Interface) is a digital interface with 24-bit color that is ideal for high-resolution displays. Because it comes in a few varieties, you will need to check the specific DVI connection on your equipment to match the cable.
S-Video Connection S-Video is the next best connection when component video is not available. This connection is commonly found on many high quality analog and digital AV components such as VCRs, televisions, and video game systems. Breaking out the video signal into two separate parts, one for color and one for brightness, improves picture sharpness over composite video, and makes color reproduction more precise.
Composite Video Connection Composite or RCA video it is a convenient and commonplace all-in-one video connection. Typically yellow in color, composite video ports are found on a multitude of video components from TVs to camcorders. Color and brightness signals are carried over a single cable, and they can be particularly susceptible to interference and noise.
Digital Coax S/PDIF Audio Connection Digital coax's wider bandwidth produces less timing inaccuracy jitter than fiber optic cables. Digital Coax cable may appear similar to a standard composite video cable, but it carries signals at a much higher frequency, so standard RCA composite video cables should never be used to connect digital coax outlets.
Fiber Optic / TOSlink Audio Connection Also known as TOSlink, fiber optic cables are commonly used to provide digital 5.1 or 7.1 home theater surround from DVD and CD players. Fiber optic cable delivers digital audio via pulses of light and is thus immune to RF interference and electrical noise. However, fiber optic cables can be subject to timing inaccuracies (knows as jitter) if the fiber optic terminations aren't precisely polished.
Analog Stereo Audio Connection "Line level" audio cables deliver stereo audio sound signals via two cables, one for Left, and one for Right. These cables typically use standard RCA jacks colored red and white to connect components. Although it is a widespread connection, line level audio cannot deliver the precise, balanced sound that modern audio components deliver. In addition, these cables can be particularly susceptible to noise and interference, so proper shielding and termination is important to maintain sound quality.
Thanks to Monster for the images and info, BTW.
The community speaks!
Here are some solid opinions about the relative value of high end cables.
There are technical differences between the top of the line and the bottom. The question is can you see and hear that difference, especially over a short (less than 30 foot) distance?
If you are going from any source to a 720p or 1080i TV set, you can get away with any old cheap cable.
As long as you're not installing the wiring in your wall, start with the cheapo cable. If you hate the results and you only paid $20 for it, go back and spend more on something certified HMDI.
Remember, good components can offset lousy cables: a PS3 and a Samsung 1080p TV can work around much of the problems. If you've put your money into the components and you're not digging into the walls, try out the lower grade stuff first.